Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Delhi || London

"I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air – or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained."  
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When you have lived in Delhi all your life, you just read about social, economic or cultural differences of the world, not live it. Heck, I have not even adjusted to the culture and language of my native state (UP) or even my birth city (Lucknow) till now! I know Delhi culture itself is cosmopolitan, but that still means there was only one experience that I had lived "The New Delhi (limited between India Gate and Chanakyapuri, and Khan Market, with a little GK, and a bit of CP and Dwarka) culture and geography".

So what happens when this girl has to suddenly live in another city, in a different part of the world? A blog, because she loves telling stories.
And what happens when that girl is lazy? A huge gap in the blog posts.
But what happens if a chunk of time passes between blog posts? She has rich enough experience to do a 5 point New Delhi vs London!! :-D

So here we go. Feel free to comment on what you agree or disagree with!

1. Stiff upper lips
    You think the British have stiff lips? Do you? Well, I have traveled alone all over (matlab, I have lost stuff, got lost myself, and in general have been at mercy of strangers) and none have disappointed me till now. There are a very helpful lot, some even going over the board to assist me. They smile and wave. They are actually quite jolly.
Also, here I would like to compare maintenance services. I have been serviced by CPWD all my life in Delhi, and it is routine there that if a problem will occur, the official's phone will hardly ever be connected, the engineer will come at his own will and fix stuff mechanically. I personally, being an introvert, like professionals who quietly do their jobs and go and don't chatter unnecessarily,  but the experience here made me think otherwise. Just for a few hours, our water supply was cut off. When I went to inquire, I was led directly to the engineer in charge, who called the people working on the problem to give me the exact time before the supply would come back, not just a random estimate. Also, they asked me if I knew what had happened, and since I did not, they explained to me the entire situation, so I could get the larger picture. All this, on their own initiatives. With smiles and apologies. Stiff upper lips? Not anymore!

PS. This is definitely not a stereotype- Indians are bloody racist. They are racist in India, and they are racist when they come here. Funny part is, they don't even know they are being racist. How cute. Not.

2. Warmth
You know when travel magazines say India is a warm, welcoming country? No, they aren't just talking about the whether! After Lajpat Nagars and Khan Markets and Sarojini Nagars where people literally pull you into their shops and make you laugh with their "salesmanship" and flattery, shop staff here just does not give a damn here! Of course, a bit of "you a'right there darling" apart, they just don't care whether you buy stuff or not, unlike the ambition of Indian shops to convert every visitor in to a customer. I feel unpampered. I will come back and then only do my shopping. Sniff.
On a related note, no restaurant served you water! Till you ask for it. sometimes repeatedly! No, they don't charge for it, but unlike the Indian custom of first serving guests water as soon as they enter, there is is no such concept here! Also, children? take them only to specific "child-friendly" places and if you take them out after say around 6, get prepared to receive tutting glares.

3. Safety
Oh dear, I cannot stress this enough. I have never felt so safe ever in my life. Going out at night and coming back at 3 am in a bus in a dress, and not even giving a shit about any word in the previous sentence, sure feels like heaven. Why can I not even think of doing that in Delhi?
And its not just about that, people follow rules. Even on a peak hour traffic on the narrowest road, and police car and an ambulance is able to pass with such speed within seconds, it deserves an applause. And right of way to pedestrians is truly amazing. I cannot remember the number of times I have escaped a car running over me just in an attempt to cross a road in Delhi.Besides that, I love their non invasive security everywhere. I do not have to show the contents on my bag before every metro journey. I do not have to deposit bags outside any movie theater, and the list goes on. This country is more of a target to menacing groups than India, but even after they give all this freedom to their people, they still have lesser attacks. Why?

4. Food
Is the sea-surrounded Britain so short of salt?? Do you know that white powdery thing?? Its supposed to bring taste to your food. Humans discovered that centuries back. (I am not even talking about spices, let not get there.)
WHY can you not put salt in your fries, soup, pasta, fish, anything!! Why does my first bite of anything need to be so yuck! Please, just give salt a chance. You will thank me for it.
Also, some diners have a rule - you cannot order a dessert before or without the main course. WHAT. Who are you? My mother??
Those who know me will understand how much desserts mean to me and how less the main course does. There are times I want to just have a drink and enjoy my self through the night and then take a walk to restaurant and have good cheesecake/brownie/anything sweet. But they wont do it! They wont even let me take it away!! Nonsensical Idiots. **Flabbergasted**
In India, I remember walking into even five star hotels and asking for just the dessert. Oh the friendly staff and reasonable rules. Sigh...

5. Inflation, Return Policy and Organic stuff. (I don't know what to name this point)
Lastly, how did things get so bloody expensive in India? No, London is not expensive. It is if you convert your Rupee income. But don't do that. Every needful and even wantful is well within a common person's reach. For example, Multi Brands have their products priced here same as in India, exact conversion. This means, for a person earning in rupees Benetton, Accessorize, and the life are expensive, while for a person here, they are relatively cheaper! Further, there are products that are the same price here, and some even cheaper, than in India even if you take the exact conversion! What the hell in going wrong? If these are locally made products, then the labour cost (at least) should be more, hence the product should be more expensive. If it an imported product from China or Bangladesh, then we are closer to those nations, hence lesser fuel costs in imports so how are those things cheaper here?!?!
Since I am talking of shopping again, I want to take my last sentence of this point to applaud the "return polity" here. You can return products. With money back. It does not need to have any defects. Dont like it? Return it. As simple as that. What is the logic behind Indian stores not letting you return the product the moment after that stupid bill is generated is beyond me. Its my mind, a human mind which can be changed, and I can change it however many times I want!
Oh also (this one last sentence of the point, promise), here, organic products and regular products of the same brand are prices exactly the same, giving you a real "choice". I have noticed in general back in Delhi that the prices of organic goods are generally higher. Like, You want to eat healthy? Be rich for that. Who is capitalistic now?

I am not the first ever Indian to live here am I? I think we all have an estimate of how many Indians must have seen what I have noted above, and how many policy makers have visited different countries, sometimes, solely with the purpose of studying a advantages of a different setup. Well.
And I know so many of the British have come to India. Why cant they learn Indian hospitality and the use of salt!?

I guess cultural differences. There is a reason this term exists.
New Delhi, London. I love you cities to bits.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Food in mouth!

Daily Breakfast

Special Breakfast/Evening energy

The Caviar tray: Caviar on ice, mini pancakes, creme fraiche, cheese, lemon, chopped onions, and toasted brown bread

And this is how we do it! Accompanied with sparkling chilled champagne :)

Good ol' tehri or pulao with lots of meat (below).

And i made duck. Had it with mango sauce. blech.
But accompanying Rose wine makes up for it :)

And I am eating this thing right now!

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July

Victoria Memorial

Buckingham Palace: Whats really there to see? :/

Between Green Park and the palace

Guards marching up and down the stable: It was funny. I laughed, then told my self I shouldn't. But then I laughed anyway cz they were soo funny!

And took lots of pictures :D

Goodness! They coronate their flagposts!

Statue: King George VI and Queen consort Elizabeth

Pretty Fountains!

Traditional English wear! <3

Twinings House!

Somerset House: Cool place, literally :)

On Thames bridge: Left side- The Shard

Right side: Big Ben and the London Eye (below)

Somewhere around this time I really got lost, ( i wanted to get to covent garden), when I saw


Silver grass! Whatever the plant is really called :P

:D :D :D :D

Covent Garden: Hilarious magician

Had lunch here! What did I have? Next blog post ;)

Found Sagar!

And my husband had a very contented dinner :D

Day ended with Meteor sighting!! yippee!! :D

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"First Day of Summer"

"The solstice. Friday – at 5:04 am, Greenwich time, to be exact – marks the point at which the sun appears in the sky at the farthest point north from the equator. The Northern Hemisphere gets sunlight for a fraction of a second longer than it did on Thursday. From here on out, the days will get progressively shorter for those north of the equator, and progressively longer for those south of it. This will continue until December 21 at 5:11 pm Greenwich time, when the sun appears in the sky at its southernmost point, and the whole process reverses."

Lol. It was any other drizzly day with no sun. But lots of warmth. See how :)

As I went out today, I saw an old man right outside my building carrying a grocery bag way too heavy for him. Unsure at first, but I offered him help anyway. Fortunately for me, he accepted - for the walk till his home was a warmly informative one.

He told me how he was one of the first residents of the area, when there were no apartment buildings, and hardly any trees. This place was called "Docks" back then and had recently been renamed "Quays". He asked about me, and he told me about his family. It was all beautiful beyond words. <3

I then took out my map to make way for the Brunell Museum. Its walking distance from my apartments. The museum is about this guy Brunell (:-O) who got made ships and the tunnel under the Thames, back when they hardly had machinery and earth had to be dug up with hands.

Here are some snapshots of it. Frankly though, nothing that you will miss if you dont go there.

Entrance (closed due to an event rehearsal) of the Thames Tunnel.

After the museum, I set out direction-less-ly to explore the neighbourhood. I found a cramped Malviya nagar type colony here! Look!

And this this I found really weird. The combination of Church, playground for kids, and cemetery.

Playground with colouful slides at a burial ground!??

Cool, and continuous water cleaning

I saw this. I wondered- Bombay?? like our Bombay is it?

And then the next side of the gate was written THIS!!
It was a residential building, so I am guessing it belonged to some officers of the company. But I had no way of confirming as there was nobody at all there. :-/

There was also a small restaurant overlooking the river here, Mayflower. After so much of warmth throughout the day, I found the guys in the restaurant cold. I would rather go here:

Beautifully done restaurant on the beginning of the road. Huge trees and outdoor seating in their well maintained garden. Indoor seating also available. The menu is all home cooked, made to order from scratch. Dragging my husband here asap.

Oh look! (You cant really make out :P) but there are jams on round-abouts here as well!! :P

Beautiful Park. This city is unbelievably green <3

This tree is so green! Can you see the green-ness?

Can you now? The bottle green shade just stood out so much!

Within this park, I discovered a Bowling club. Not the Bowling you and I know of, its a different, engrossing sport needing a lot of concentration. The next post in the blog will be dedicated to that sport.

On my way back, the dark cloudy skies (On the first day of summer, mind you) gave way to little drizzling. As I brisked with my hoodie on my head, I spotted a Brazilian shop. What, an exotic shop and I wont go in? Is that even possible?

So, I sat down and ordered 2.20 pound Coxinha, which i suspected was something of a Chicken pakora

And lo! It was!

Oh! But not entirely! The outer most layer was that of very crispy breadcrumbs. According to the chef, the middle layer is made of out mashed Casava, more popularly known as Sweet Potoato. The filling was minced chicken breast, lightly seasoned with local herbs and salt. Quite a savoury for the weather outside! However, too bland for most Indians.

O! And I also went to two different shops. One, to get an itenary for Europe, etc. and one really nice shop of clothes and accessories to buy sunglasses. Both guys spoke to me in Hindi!! They were both Pakistanis. So sweet and friendly. And it feels really nice to be able to communicate in hindi, without putting on accents and taking help of gestures :-D

The day ended with a small get together at out home. Friends, jokes, whiskey and Biryani- more than a cherry on the cake, isn't it?

Wow, London, your first day of summer is indeed warm...